MANILA— Over P28 billion worth of COVID-19 response funds out of P42 billion that the health department transferred to the budget department's procurement service office (PS-DBM) last year has already been disbursed, an official said on Tuesday.
Joshua Laure, director of PS-DBM's Administrative and Finance Group, said about P28.2 billion of the DOH funds were already accounted for.
Only P39 billion worth of funds are "obligated" to PS-DBM, Laure pointed out.
Of the P28.2 billion, the biggest chunk or P8.8 billion went to Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Inc, the controversial firm accused of overpriced supplies.
Some P11 billion cover "ongoing deliveries," Laure said.
Pharmally, a company that supplied face masks, face shields and other medical equipment to the government, is facing allegations that its goods were overpriced.
"Yes we do have the PS delivery receipts to prove our delivery na na-receive na po ng DOH (that the DOH received)," Laure told lawmakers in a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.
But Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said his agency only received nearly P25.87 billion worth of goods as of Aug. 31.
"The correct statement is we received about P25 billion of the P28 billion that have already been... disbursed by PS-DBM. As of Aug. 31, this is not the recent deliveries but we will check on this," Duque said.
When asked by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon if it was a matter of "updating" the agency's records, the health chief answered in the affirmative.
The senator also asked where the other P3 billion went.
"We will check with the deliveries between Sept. 1 and yesterday, that's one, number 2, we can reconcile this with the PS-DBM to quantify the numbers," he said.
Senators earlier criticized the DOH for transferring P42 billion worth of pandemic response funds to the PS-DBM, saying it was questionable.
Duque earlier argued that the transfer, meant for the purchase of PPEs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, was supported by the Government Procurement Policy Board's Resolution No. 03-2020.
Drilon earlier said the DOH decision to transfer funds was to "mask its unobligation rate and inefficiency."